Ignore currencies, buy stocks: Goldman's Oppenheimer

Equity investors should shrug off concerns over the strength of global currencies and focus on a recovery in economic growth which will push stock markets higher, one of Goldman Sachs' top strategists told CNBC.

The dollar has risen over the last few months against a basket of global currencies, with the expectation that the U.S. Federal Reserve will hike its main benchmark interest rate this year.

The money flooding to the greenback has softened in recent weeks, but major multinationals were left counting the costs of a higher currency and the dent it has made to revenues.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Peter Oppenheimer, chief global equities strategist at Goldman Sachs, told CNBC that a strong dollar shouldn't play a part in any portfolio decision, however. Instead, he highlighted that it was having other effects, such as boosting consumption, which was more likely to drive stock markets higher.

"The counterbalance to (a stronger dollar) is the improvements we are seeing in the labor market and in consumption - the data yesterday was quite positive on consumption. Clearly the stronger dollar is also improving purchasing power," he told CNBC Thursday.

"A lot of headwinds for consumption are moderating. Savings rates are high, disposable income will be improving and consumption is a very big part of the economy."

Gross domestic product (GDP) figures on Wednesday for the U.S. came in below market expectations. The data revealed that growth in consumer spending slowed to a 1.9 percent rate - the slowest in a year - according to Reuters, and followed a reading of 4.4 percent in the previous quarter.

Temporary slowdown?

Goldman Sachs remained upbeat on the U.S., however, and Oppenheimer said he expects a "reacceleration" after this "temporary slowdown." Coupled with better data in the euro zone, he said that overall it would be "pretty supportive for global activity."

The fresh U.S. GDP figures helped stunt the dollar's rise on Wednesday, along with a statement from the U.S. Federal Reserve. Consequently, the euro hit a two-month high Thursday against the greenback.

But, as with the dollar, Oppenheimer remained adamant that investors should not focus on these currency movements.

"I think that growth is really the most important factor here. That's what's really going to drive profits and dividends and that's really ultimately what equity investors are looking for," he said.

"The effects on the currency mainly via profits, their translation effects...they're relatively moderate. Of course it is helpful to see the euro weakening but I don't think it is essential."

His comments echo Dennis Gartman's, the editor and publisher of the Gartman letter, who said a strong dollar should not hamper markets. Speaking to CNBC Thursday, the closely-watched investor added that trying to guess the market's direction on the back on the back of the dollar's direction was a "mug's game."